The Western Cape has officially reached the peak of its second wave, but health experts are already warning of another. According to these experts, delaying the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines could greatly impact the country and lead to a third wave of infections.
The current second wave is largely driven by the new 501.V2 variant which is dominant in the country. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)’s acting executive director Professor Adrian Puren has already expressed concerns that the vaccine may be rendered less effective due to the mutations of this variant.
Speaking to SABC News, University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Public Health, Professor Mosa Moshabela said that this variant could cause even more damage than it already has.
“We’ve got a new variant which is changing the dynamics in this second surge. The virus is evolving in ways that are concerning and we recognise that it’s more transmissible and driving a big wave in the second surge but we expect that the same vaccines that have been developed will work,” he said.
“That’s why we are concerned that there’s is potential for the virus to be so strong that it makes it difficult for the vaccine to work, we have seen the third wave in other countries which means that we are not immune to the third wave.”
On Thursday [January 7], Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the Serum Institute of India (SII) has confirmed the delivery of 1-million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine in January and 500 000 doses in February. These vaccines will be administered to the country’s frontline healthcare workers.
These will be the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the country, which is currently lagging behind in the vaccination process.
This announcement came hours after South Africa recorded 844 deaths and 21 832 new cases, the worst figures the country has seen since the outbreak began.
To date, the country has recorded 1 170 590 cumulative cases, 31 809 deaths and 938 216 recoveries, representing a recovery rate of 80,1%.